March 24, 2004 – 2:27 pm
I sent a proposal in to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, regarding DAB. Actually, they asked me to. I obliged with a 21-page document (you know me – laconic), which I’m led to understand contrasts nicely with the more concise 6-pager from the radio industry.
In it, I suggested that moving forward with digital audio broadcasting (DAB) is neither necessary for New Zealand society and nor is it historically inevitable.
It does, however, offer significant opportunities and advantages for both commercial interests and for public broadcasting principles, and – if administered carefully – will benefit New Zealand and New Zealanders both economically and culturally.
I proposed that a limited release of Eureka 147 DAB multiplex frequencies be allocated on a nationwide basis for a modest spectrum lease fee. With the cooperation of BCL, these DAB multiplexes should be tested and modified to overcome difficulties in coverage (apparently tall buildings may be problematic).
Multiplexes should be made available both to existing commercial broadcasters and non-commercial broadcasters – with room for expansion of services, particularly in the area of public radio.
I believe that the expansion into digital services provides the government with the opportunity to redress the imbalance between these two models created after the industry was deregulated, and provide a genuinely mixed broadcasting environment that caters to the needs of all New Zealanders. Steve Maharey said much the same thing to the assembled RBA in May last year, and scarcely raised an eyebrow in the crowd.
I also suggested that the Government agree to accept proposals from would-be satellite radio providers for consideration.
Of course, I’m finding out more about this all the time. Typically, the new information I learn about digital radio is the sort of basic stuff without which all knowledge of such matters is laughable. I’m so mentally challenged.
For example – here’s an interesting thing that has just never occurred to me to ask about. I was lucky enough to be told by someone whose interest in DAB is marginal at best. Apparently there’s nothing in the existing legislation to prevent broadcasters from establishing multiplexes on their currently allocated frequency, no engineering reason why it shouldn’t be possible, no commercial reason not to do it (the DAB receivers can be set to receive those frequencies), there’s the bandwidth necessary, and it would have no more line-of-sight intereference than existing FM signals.
If, he says, anybody wants to do it, they just have to ask, and they will probably be told ‘yes’. They just haven’t had anyone ask them yet. I’m going to follow this up with the nice man from Spectrum Management – make sure I’ve understood this correctly. He’ll be able to explain it in words of between 8 and 17 syllables.
On the other hand – nobody has blanket permission to be running RDS, and there are serious compliance issues. Look for some interesting changes to the way that gets administered in the near future.
George FM DJ meeting at Galatos last night, at which I won a particularly nice pair of headphones (Ministry of Sound DJ cans), which made me somewhat less jealous that someone else won an iPod. Door prize sort of arrangement.
Also, spent much of the afternoon photocopying articles out of the New Zealand Listener dating back to 1939. There was a listing for an upcoming show on 1ZB in which those ‘merry darkies’ entertain with their jolly songs from de cotton fields.
I swear – it looked like a rather clever contemporary parody of Paul Holmes.